A COLLECTION of nearly 50 motorboats could be moved elsewhere in the country after a specialist museum closed.

Basildon Council’s Motorboat Museum in Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea, closed to the public in December, but now it has emerged the collection of boats could be sent elsewhere.

Friends of the Motorboat Museum, along with the council, say they are busy trying to find a new home for the collection, and hope it can stay together.

The council owns 15 of the boats, the rest are on long-term loan from private owners.

George Sawyer, 82, of Great Berry Lane, Langdon Hills, is a former world record holder in hydroplane racing, and a member of the Friends.

He said: “If the collection is broken it will be a disaster.

“Basildon has really lost something. This museum was the only one of its kind in the world, which traced the history and evolution of motor boats.

“Hopefully the museum won’t be lost altogether, even though it will be sadly lost to Basildon.”

The museum has been at the park, off Pitsea Hall Lane, since 1986 and was closed after the council announced it had secured nearly £1million of Government funding to transform half of the museum space into a new “green-themed” visitor centre, looking at how Basildon people can be more environmentally friendly.

The council, which spent £100,000 a year on the museum, said it was too specialised and did not attract enough visitors to justify keeping it open.

Building work is due to start on the new centre in June, and it should open the following year.

When it is finished, the half which is not used as a museum will be leased out, but the council said it was yet to find a new occupier.

Julie Graham, the former curator of the museum, said she she hoped the collection would be kept largely intact.

She said: “We’re thinking positive and looking to the future. We’ve been approached by a number of interested parties who would take the collection.”

Approaches have come from Salcombe in Devon, where a nuclear bunker could be converted into a boat museum, and an existing museum in Poole.

Discussions are also being held with a councillor from Wales. However, four boats have already been returned to their owners, and will be racing in this year’s annual Cowes Classic powerboat race off the Isle of Wight.

Council is accused of not doing enough

A COUNCILLOR and a boat enthusiast have accused the council of not doing enough to keep the Motorboat Museum’s collection intact.

Lib Dem councillor Ben Williams, who represents Nethermayne ward, Basildon, said: “I don’t believe the council has invested any serious effort in maintaining the integrity of the collection.

“I have nothing against taking funding from Government for a new green education centre.

“However, if the council was bothered enough, it could have sought to preserve this nationally-significant collection.”

Chris Kaye, 75, secretary of the Friends of the Motorboat Museum, agreed with Mr Williams.

The boat enthusiast, who lives in Bournemouth, said: “I agree Basildon is not the best place for the museum. It needs to be somewhere where you have large numbers of tourists and holiday makers. But I do feel the council could do more by giving us a fairer chance to re-home the museum.

“The time scale is extremely tight for any relocation offer to come to fruition.

“If the museum can’t be re- homed, then the exhibition will be broken up.”